Loreta Kwong from Joe Taylor takes out the Australian final of the Opihr World Adventure Cocktail competition

Inspired by the ancient Spice Route where merchants travelled thousands of miles to exchange the best botanicals, exotic spices, and local knowledge, The Opihr World Adventure cocktail competition called for the world’s explorer bartenders to submit a bold and unique cocktail recipe that transcends borders, cities and cultures, using a key, local ingredient. With this approach, the competition allows for bartenders around the world to unlock each-others knowledge, and inspiration by creating a platform where they can trade the ingredients they’re most proud of and share the skills they’re most famous for.

Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin is crafted with a selection of exotic hand-picked botanicals, including spicy Cubeb berries from Indonesia, Black Pepper from India and Coriander from Morocco, making the spice route the perfect stage for the Australian finalists to showcase their talents and creations at The Junk Lounge, located smack back in the middle of Sydney Harbour.

The impressive line up included:

  • Claudia Morgan, The Dominion League WA
  • Giacomo Franceschi, Felix, NSW
  • Gregory Perrot, NOLA, SA
  • Indra Saryani, The 18th Amendment Bar, VIC
  • Jack Stacey, The Gresham, QLD
  • Jared Huk, The Howlin Wolf, NSW
  • Loreta Kwong, Joe Taylor, VIC

Taking out first place was Loreta Kwong for her drink ‘The Alchemist’. Inspired by the intrepid nature of Opihr, it reminded Loreta of Paulo Coelo’s novel “The Alchemist” which similarly explores the concept that no gold is more valuable than knowledge from travel. Loreta’s drink included a spicy blend of ginger, Australian honey and turmeric syrup, hand made from fresh local ingredients, that ultimately highlight the unique blend of botanicals found in Opihr.

Winner Loreta Kwong.

Second place went to Claudia Morgan for her ‘The Magic pudding’ based on the novel, which incorporated local ingredients of Vegemite and native plum shrub, served along side homemade pudding and Vegemite leather. And in third place was Jared Huj for his creation ‘The land of milk and honey’, a drink inspired by his childhood, featuring crunchy nut cornflake infused buttermilk, and honey syrup, finished off with a local eucalyptus mist.

The Grand Final takes place from 24th – 27th September in vibrant and colourful Istanbul, the city that bridges the East and the West, and will see the last ten standing bartenders from around the world competing for the ultimate title, The Spirit of Opihr.

The panel of judges at this years Grand Final sees Simone Caporale (leader within the drinks industry having previously worked for London’s Artesian, which won World’s Best Bar for four consecutive years), Ondrej Pospichal (Spirit Evangelist currently based in Hong Kong from Proof and Company), and Aaron Pollock (2017 competition winner from Chicago, and previously of the Dawson) lead the judging panel.

Caporale says; “It’s great to be part of a cocktail competition that is not only celebrating local ingredients, but is ultimately encouraging bartenders to share with one another the knowledge of their country and culture to experiment with new flavours that they’ve learnt from one another.”

“Cocktails are all about the intricacy of its ingredients, and it’s fantastic that Opihr is championing local ingredients and encouraging bartenders to experiment with these in new and different ways”, says Pospichal.

The Alchemist, by Loreta Kwong

  • 60ml Opihr Gin
  • 10ml Dry Vermouth
  • 10ml yuzu juice
  • 10ml ginger turmeric syrup
  • 2 drops of saline solution (10:1)
  • 2 dashes of lem-merrakech bitter (Bittered Sling)

Method: Measure all ingredients into a shaker, shake and double strain into Middle Eastern Tea glass over large rectangular ice. Garnish with Gold Dust Painted Star Anise.

For the Ginger Turmeric Syrup:
2 parts ginger juice 1 part turmeric juice slowly simmer with 2 parts Australian honey, 1 part sugar and 1 part water until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and chill for 24 hours before use.